24 May, 2013 24 May, 2013

All Hail the King of New Pier!


by Antonio Bortoletto

It’s the year 1995 and Richard Sills and I are riding our BMX’s to school along the Durban beachfront. George Campbell Technical High is near New Pier. We live in apartments on South Beach, so a morning cruise is the start of our day.

Every morning at that exact time a big bold figure with long hair walks down with board in arm. He is going to work today. He is a professional surfer, and believe me, today he is going to put in yet another solid day. At just 20 years-old Shane Thorne will still be out there once we finally finish school and race for our boards, frothing to get out into the always-peeling New Pier lineup.

All day every day he is out there. He practices a lot. In 1995 the Dorians and Slaters where small in stature compared to today’s Jordys and Owen Wrights. So at 6’3″ he is a bit over built, and he’d also started surfing late at 12 years-old. He makes up for lost time rapidly. Day in and day out he smashes lip after lip at New Pier. He starts to dominate the line up. Turn after turn he pushes harder and harder, with a never give up fearless attitude toward the most intimidating lip. He smashes, grinds and thrashes set wave after set wave after set wave. He is still out there with us in the dark, bashing the last runner all the way to the shore to end the day.

Ladies and gentleman this is the new King of New Pier.

His prowess at New Pier saw Shane clinch the 2008 Quiksilver Goodwave in epic conditions.

His prowess at New Pier saw Shane clinch the 2008 Quiksilver Goodwave in epic conditions.

He rules, and kooks dare not get in his way. If you think you’re going to jump off the pier and snag a set, think again. Many older surfers challenge him. He quickly puts them in their place. There is no messing around at New Pier. All those heavy Bluff owes who used to give the Town Clowns the ‘go home’ treatment. All those coastal secret spot surfers who tell you to go home when you surf the coast. They think they can come strolling into town and jump off New Pier when the south west is howling? Oh no, with a friendly smile and a drop-in, Shane Thorne tells you “Welcome to New Pier, now go surf the Wedge side.” There is no escape as he is out there 24/7.

He loves his job. You are stepping into his office. You better knock before you come in. I’ve watched him take off on countless 6-foot dredgers, and while I was thinking ‘what a perfect barrel section’, Shane would do the unthinkable – he’d stubbornly take a deep bottom turn and with an aggressive look on his face, he’d hit the lip. A thick lip gets an even thicker crack. From the side angle you can hear the board slapping the water. CRACK!!! He’d hit it so hard that he would start to drift, and balancing on a pitching 6-foot lip he’d glide around into a reverse. He was as surprised as I was the first time. It’s a power reverse, it was him pushing with so much power that there is no resistance to stop him. He used to do those a lot. The power reverse 360.

You must have seen those National Geographic documentries about ancient civilizations doing things back then that modern man cannot do today? Well let me tell you, he hit the lip so hard in 1995 and it cannot be done harder today. Jordy could probably match it, but not better it. Almost 20 years later there is no surfer to this day that hit the lip harder. I have been surfing for 26 years now, and still, never have I seen power surfing like that.

Shane's still throwing buckets. 2011 Mr Price Pro.

Shane’s still throwing buckets. 2011 Mr Price Pro.

Monday to Sunday, morning to night, he gets all the best waves. He is the guardian, he puts in more time than anyone else. You cannot surf New Pier if you don’t have manners. There is no learning to surf out here. This is New Pier and Shane is here. No paddleskis, please. Longboarders? Only if you rip. Bodyboarders be careful.

The biggest mistake of your life is dropping in on him. There is only room for a few, so move along. Some kooks come up the pier carelessly kicking and paddling and getting in the way. They don’t belong there. Shane steps in. They leave quicker than they came. But if you surf well and you know what you are doing, he is your biggest friend. Without him there is anarchy.

The King of New Pier firmly reigns.

The New Pier - Shane's kingdom.

The New Pier – Shane’s Kingdom.


About the Author: If you’re a newbie to surfing in South Africa, you may not have heard the name Antonio Bortoletto before. For everyone else, he needs no introduction. Now living in Brazil, he was (still is) one of SA’s best surfers, and competed on the World Qualifying Series for a number of years before calling it a day – but not before winning numerous local and international events along the way. One of the highlights was surely Antonio and Jordy Smith going tit-for-tat at New Pier during the 2007 Lizzard Pro in a high-scoring final, which Jordy narrowly won. If Shane Thorne was King of New Pier, Antonio was one of his knights sitting at the Round Table.


  1. chad vkz
    24 May, 2013 at 5:51 pm · Reply

    sounds like a real prick

    • tim
      24 May, 2013 at 7:29 pm · Reply


    • Calvin
      24 May, 2013 at 8:14 pm · Reply

      Nice observation, Chad. However, Shane was always a good oke to me – most probably because I always behaved in the lineup.

      Yes, he delivered a tightie here or there, but as far as I can remember they were handed out to fully deserving recipients. He is just a no nonsense type who wears his heart on his sleeve.

      I wish New Pier could get another Shane Thorne. And Mouse. The crowd is a little chaotic today. Like Antonio says – without him there is anarchy.

      Thanks for holding fort for so long, Shane, and I wish someone would take your place.

  2. Charlie
    25 May, 2013 at 4:20 am · Reply

    it totally was better when ST was in the water….freaking idiots out there today. O’s must catch a wakeup or not surf there.

  3. Mandy L
    25 May, 2013 at 10:58 am · Reply

    A man with a very big heart and the kindest soul.

  4. Swanky
    26 May, 2013 at 5:35 pm · Reply

    Chad pitty you don’t have the balls to put your full real name there. Knowing Shane he would probably give you a slap on the back and tell you your entitled to your opinion but have the balls to say it to his face. So here’s me telling you that your a little prick and my name is Brad Swanepoel or Swanky to my friends. Good on you Ant, Shane deserves the recognition As do a lot of the older guys that were killing it around that time when were all just growing up.

    • lifelesson101
      17 June, 2013 at 8:16 pm · Reply

      Brad I am sure that retail details clients must be super stoked that you are in charge of marketing. You have a company to run, forget about trying to be that tough guy you were in your youth. The world has changed since then, you can end up in jail for fighting and defamation, this is not the 80s

    • SAVage
      1 January, 2014 at 1:20 pm · Reply

      bwahahaha what a fat cocksucker you are ‘swanky’!

  5. Ben
    27 May, 2013 at 5:26 am · Reply

    Shane delivered some of the best surfing i have ever seen out at New Pier by anyone, anywhere! He was heavy and people feared him but it created order, put in your time, earn your place!

  6. loop
    27 May, 2013 at 7:17 am · Reply

    I remember paddling out during a sharks rugby match and Shane was in the water and only 1 other okey out. The waves where about 2 foot and nothing special…But he was so stoked to be out there…I remember it cos of his attitude in the water. Shane is a cool dude no doubt.

  7. Shane Thorne
    27 May, 2013 at 11:42 am · Reply

    Hey Chad, crazy how I sound like a prick to you through an article written from a shit hot surfer’s perspective on me. Clearly he didn’t have the opinion that I’m a prick, as I somehow, yet gratefully so, inspired him to write this. Seems to me that you have more than likely been on the receiving end of many altercations with locals therefore your immature comment. Anyway, hopefully you’ll be man enough to introduce yourself to me if we ever cross paths and tell me I’m a prick to my face. If not, you will just be another insignificant little asshole who hides behind a fictitious name on the social media platform and is regarded as a coward.

    • lifelesson101
      17 June, 2013 at 7:27 pm · Reply

      Shane did you expect anything different in a comment when you have crossed paths with so many people and stood on so many toes over the years. I think I was 15 when you beat me up in the water for no reason, just a kid… I am now 40 and you still trying to be that tough guy. I think there may be a few more people out there that feel the same. Concentrate on surfing rather than trying to be a tough guy, its not the 80s anymore..

      • David Van Rensburg
        18 June, 2013 at 5:22 pm · Reply

        i think mr chad was referring to how shane might have come across in the article and not to shane personally. More about how he was represented and not about who he is. i’ve never met him but have enjoyed watching him surf and with all the big ups from fellow rippers it’s clear that he is a well-respected and above all, well-liked guy. I remember an article when he had done well in a contest and it was for his family and that stuck with me. Don’t be down on chad but be up for shane.

        • lifelesson101
          18 June, 2013 at 7:29 pm · Reply

          Fair enough comment, if chad had meant that, clearly a few people including shane misinterpreted it. I have a problem with a few surfers who believe they own territory anywhere on this planet and especially those who believed they have the right to lift a hand to any other human. One simple question, would you do it to your own children or want it done to you.. so before writing gloating articles about territory and the past, they should rather write about a good surfer from durban that is respected for being a good surfer, who kids look up to and not someone who uses violence as a means of getting his own way…just my 5 cents worth. I think Durban is a better place without any of these thugs around..

          • David Van Rensburg
            18 June, 2013 at 8:23 pm ·

            what I was trying to say is the writer has chosen his angle which paints the subject as an enforcer. i too oppose territorial based perceptions of ownership. Like i said i’ve never met Shane so i should probably reserve any comments.

          • Stephen
            6 July, 2016 at 7:28 pm ·

            Chad…. You are a cock sucker!!!! And to the knob that is complaining Shame acts like a tough guy….. You clearly deserved to get ducked up by him. Shane doesn’t smack arseholes for nothing, he smacks them because they are arseholes. Dick heads.

      • Stephen
        6 July, 2016 at 7:31 pm · Reply

        You are a cock!!!

  8. Tucky
    27 May, 2013 at 2:51 pm · Reply

    Shane is an absolute legend , well mannered, respectful man , who happens to be one of SA ‘s best surfers . You sound like a bit of a prick Chad .

    • Tucky
      6 October, 2013 at 6:00 pm · Reply

      I would like to disagree with that statement Tucky..Shane and His knights around the table sound like the people who should be under the spotlight. No need to show lack of education publicly with your swearing..

  9. Dan Redman
    27 May, 2013 at 4:28 pm · Reply

    Well Shane was a prick. He was a prick to all the kooks that shouldn’t have been out at New Pier. He was also a prick when he smoked Slater twice at pumping Jbay during a time when Slater was seven years ahead of his closest rival. Not to many pricks can say that.

    Shane, the New Pier line up and the rest of the lightie crew who you taught the rules to are always missing you!!

  10. WeirdandWonderful
    28 May, 2013 at 6:23 am · Reply

    Not just a legend Shane is in the water, but a man of integrity and soul out of the water I recall Shane giving me a pep talk (as a total stranger) as to the dangers of drugs. I would never forget the advise he gave and would be always grateful for his advise.

  11. Glen Drysdale
    28 May, 2013 at 7:25 am · Reply

    Nice piece Antonio,

    Chad, that comment is completely unnecessary.

    Shane remains of of SA’s best power surfers. Just full tilt , rail all the time. In my opinion, there is only one other new pier surfer that matches Shane for creativity and risk and that’s Wade Sharp. Wade used to do full on carving 360 reverses on 6ft waves at the new pier in the 90’s. i think he called that move ‘the compass’ . Shane and Wade redefined what was possible out there.

    Shane always treats people in the line up with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. I will never forget, having been out of the water for close on 2 years, my first wave back at the new pier, i made a turn after pretty much learning to surf again. Shane paddled over to me with the biggest smile, and said, ” man , its so good to have you back out here!”

    That moment personified what Shane thorne is all about. sharing smiles and sharing waves.

  12. Deon Lategan
    28 May, 2013 at 1:14 pm · Reply

    lekker article and insight
    woulda been epic to see that
    take care Shane
    love how it keeps coming up that order is needed in the Lineup
    I see it time and time again
    that when nobody controls things it just turns to chaos

  13. Mark Otto
    30 May, 2013 at 12:45 pm · Reply

    Nice Article Antonio…Shane’s definitley the King out there…Aloha

  14. Jonesy PE
    11 June, 2013 at 1:47 pm · Reply

    Shane I have a big Gun a 365 magnum to use in the line up .

    People must die for dropping in on you boet -I love your ass .

    Yes I am scared of you -you big Yogi bear homo sapien .

    Jokes ….ha ha .

    Slater knows you were a Thorn in his side during the Bong that is for sure.

    You guys are so serious it’s funny.

    Murder Death Kill

  15. Colin B
    11 June, 2013 at 6:33 pm · Reply

    Hats off to Antonio and Shane, both legends in their own right in SA surfing.

  16. SAVage
    13 June, 2013 at 4:26 am · Reply

    Is this the same Shane Thorne that was a ‘crack addict’ during the above mentioned ‘reign’? Of course it is… what a cnut!

  17. Kev
    24 June, 2013 at 6:39 am · Reply

    Everyone that I known who grew up surfing new pier in the 1990s has nothing but respect for Shane. His surfing was inspirational. Shane and a few others maintained order in the line up, and new pier was a better place for it. It was just about respect. Shane was also the guy hooting loudest if someone else got a bomb. A lot of good surfers have come from new pier – but, love him or hate him, no one’s owned the place like Shane Thorne.

    Ant’s had his moments too.

  18. Knight of the round table
    6 October, 2013 at 5:51 pm · Reply

    Antonio was one of his knights sitting at the round table…? Are these people for real? When your perception of mortality hits you like a sledge hammer in the face, you will realise you own nothing, you leave with nothing and the people you were chasing away, body borders or paddle skiers, or youngsters learning to surf, have as much right as you to be there. Put that ego back in your pocket and realise you just a few surfers with too much attitude. Bad article Zig Zag, thought you could publish something a little more inspiring..

  19. Mongoose
    23 January, 2014 at 4:39 pm · Reply

    Shane is one surfer I have respected my whole life. He deserves every ounce of respect he gets. I never wrote this article just so that’s clear, but I miss watching both Ant and Shane klap lips in surf city. Those days of Taco Zulu and the Coffee Shop at New Pier, where all the groms hung out by Surf Zone, watching Davey and Simon and Greg P killing it from pier to pier with P3 artlined between their fins, yussis man I miss those days. I was such a fan of our top crop from town, especially guys like Ant and Shane. I like those memories, bummed to hear guys bleeding on the floor from their vaginas about guys who have shaped our surfing history. Come now. Would love to see Shane and Ant in the Quiksilver Good Wave along with the P3. That would be all time.

  20. old pierre
    22 June, 2014 at 2:39 pm · Reply

    well at least he lived on the beachfront,and had long hair(lol)..unlike the rest of you c#$%^s who drive in from the west,north and where ever,with your Biz crops on ya nutters and 4×2’s or rust buckets…come pay the rent,rates,whatever,this side before you think youre a local.
    We only knew each other by sight and maybe by rumours,
    Ive lived and surfed in places o/s more localized and hostile than npier,and earned plenty grunts and nods of approval.
    surfers that put in water time and move water,have a mutual respect for others that can do the same,it shows in your face and demeanor

  21. Lee-Ann Albers
    3 October, 2016 at 1:32 pm · Reply

    I’m blessed to have been one of the only girls surfing New Pier at the time… I was completely oblivious to all of the above, in fact I can remember being pushed by my skinny little ankle onto a good couple of waves by Mouse. Didn’t even know his name at the time. Those were the days!

  22. Luke Thorne
    18 June, 2020 at 11:59 am · Reply

    SAVage, I don’t agree with you at all. People always have something better to do than tune people for how far they’ve gotten. My dad is much cooler than you think mahn. You probably haven’t met him but stand on your tippy toes and say that to his face and he’ll just know that you another hater.

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